*Fue [Proto Polynesian]
A generic name for various vines and creepers found along or near the coast, especially members of the Convolvulaceae

From PROTO OCEANIC *puRe, "General name for beach creepers, prototypically Stictocardia tiliifolia and Ipomoea pes-caprae (Convolvulaceae)",
through PROTO EASTERN OCEANIC *vuRe, "Shore creeper (generic)"; and

Proto Polynesian: *Fue, a generic name for various vines and creepers found along or near the coast, from a variety of plant families.
Tongan: Fue (A general names for vines, including Ipomoea, Meremmia, Piper and Canavalia spp.); Fue 'ae puaka, fue fakahinga (Ipomoea indica, Convolvulaceae)
Niuean: Fue (Meremmia peltata, Convolvulaceae)
Samoan: Fue (As in Tongan, the general name for vines and creepers, including Fue fai va'a Canavalia rosea, Fabaceae, Fue lautetela, Meremmia peltata, Convolvulaceae; Fue manogi, Piper graeffei, Piperaceae; Fue moa, Ipomoea pes-caprae, Convolvulaceae; Fue selelā, Hoya australis, Asclepidaceae; and Fue sina, Vigna marina, Fabaceae)
Kapingamarangi: Hue (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
Rennellese: Hue (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
PROTO EASTERN POLYNESIAN *Hue (Lagenaria siceraria, "Bottle gourd ", Cucurbitaceae) -- see the linked page; *Pōhue, a generic name for various vines and creepers found along or near the coast, mostly members of the Convolvulaceae (= Proto Polynesian *Fue). Reflexes of Proto Eastern Polynesian *Pōhue are noted on the linked page.

Stichtocardia tiliifolia - Fue ~ Pōhuehue
(Kailua, Hawaii. Photo: "Epibase", Wiki media)
Ipomoea pes-caprae - Fue ~ Pōhuehue
(Upper Hakioawa, Kahoolawe, Hawaii; Photo: Forest and Kim Starr)

Gao (Santa Isobel, Solomon Isl.): Fu-fure (Ipomoea pes-caprae, Convovulaceae)
Sa'a (South-East Solomons): Hule (Convolvulus sp., growing on seashore" [probably Ipomoea pes-caprae], Convolvulaceae)
Paamese (Paama, North Vanuatu): Hua-Hue ("Beach morning glory" [probably Ipomoea pes-caprae], Convolvulaceae).

The direct reflexes of this word have retained its generic Proto-Polynesian meaning in the languages of North-Western Polynesia, but focus on a new and specific referent in Eastern Polynesia. This change in direction would have taken place about a thousand years ago, when the early explorers based in Tahiti, the Marquesas or Mangareva discovered the calabash gourd, either collected along with the kūmara from Peru or Ecuador, or having floated ashore on one of the islands. In Eastern Polynesia the old word was assigned to refer to the vine and/or fruit of Lagenaria sicaria, and modified by prefixing it with pō-, to designate some or all of the vines and climbers covered by Proto-Polynesian *fue, and a few of their local relatives. The calabash gourd was unknown in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The Asian variety reached the Solomon Islands -- it is known as kapia in Tikopian, one of the Polynesian Outlier languages in that region, but the direct reflexes of *fue in these languages refer to Ipomoea pes-caprae and other creepers, as in the Tongic and Samoic languages.

Ipomoea pes-caprae, the pan-tropical "beach morning glory", fue tai or fue moa in Samoa, pōhuehue in Hawai'i, is probably the key member of this cluster of plants. This plant is common on sandy or rocky beaches, and its stems can stretch or scramble up to five metres or more. In Samoa the sap from young leaves was used as a medicine for treating eye problems (W.A. Whistler, Plants in Samoan Culture, p. 114). Its roots and leaves were sometimes used to provide a famine food, but one which would be reserved for real emergencies, Wagner et al. (Manual of Flowering Plants ..., p.557) and others note that the cathartic compounds in this (and other species in the Convolvulus family) make that a dangerous practice. In Hawai'i it was also used in plasters and poultices, and the stout stems occasionally were used for cordage.

Another pan-tropical Ipomoea, I. indica, is also covered by this generic name. It is also a twining vine, with large, heart-shaped leaves, and runners typically stretch five or more metres. Its roots and leaves are used in poultices, and, not surprisingly, the seeds can be used as a cathartic. It is found in disturbed and open spaces, mostly near the coast, but sometimes inland.

The other "iconic" fue is Stictocardia tiliifolia (formerly Ipomoea grandiflora), also a member of the Convolvulus family. It is found in tropical and subtropical Asia and the Pacific. In Samoa this plant, along with others of that family, is sometimes called pālulu; its Hawaian specific name is pilikai (which indicates its typical coastal habitat). It has alternate, large heart-shaped leaves, the lower surfaces of which are marked with tiny black dots.

Yet another fue is the "beach pea", Vigna marina, fue sina in Samoa and mohihihi in Hawai'i. Art Whistler (Plants in Samoan Culture, p. 114) notes that an infusion of crushed leaves dripped into the eyes, nose, mouth, or ears, or rubbed on the skin, especially of infants may be used as a "ghost medicine", i.e. to treat, alleviate or immunise against conditions thought to have supernatural origins. The plant is a succulent climbing or creeping perennial herb, with branches several metres long; in Hawai'i it is often found in association with Ipomoea pes-caprae and the naupaka Scaevola seriacea.

Also legumes are the various species of Canavalea -- two of which, C. rosea, fue fai va'a in Samoa, and C. sericea, fue fakahinga in Tonga (Hawaiian pōhue) are included in the gallery below. Although their English names include words like "bean" or "pea", the seeds of most species are poisonous, although some, but not those on these pages, are said to be edible when cooked. Canavalea rosea, the "beach pea", gets its Samoan name from its pods (illustrated on the left). These are split along the side to make a small boat for children to play with. The climber Canavalea sericea, the "silky jack bean", fue veli in Tonga, is native to Fiji and Tahiti, but naturalized throughout tropical Polynesia, including Hawaii, where it was introduced from Rarotonga in the 1930s.

Hoya australis, the fue selelā (vine for snaring the sun) in Samoa, is a slender-stemmed vigorous climber. In Samoa it is found in both littoral and upland forests; Christophersen in his Samoan Flowering Plants distinguishes the Samoan form of this species from the Australian Hoya australis, and retains the name H. bicarinata for this plant; however H. bicarinata is currently regarded as a synonym for the subspecies Hoya australis melanesica. It is a native of Western Polynesia, but has also been introduced and naturalized in many parts of Eastern Polynesia. In Samoan mythology rope made from these vines was used for snaring the sun, not by Māui (as in Aotearoa) but by one of the sun's own children. An infusion of the crushed leaves is used to treat various kinds of inflamation and internal pains, drunk or applied to the skin. Other Samoan names for this plant are lau māfiafia, suni vao and lau 'ōlive. The term suni vao, "suni of the forest", comes from the resemblance of its attractive scented flowers to those of the suni, Phaleria disperma (Thymeliaceae), now a rare and almost forgotten shrub whose cream-coloured flowers were once used for scenting coconut oil.

Piper graeffei is known in Sāmoa as fue manogi (fragrant fue) when mature; when young it is called 'ava'ava aitu solo (creeping ghostiy kava-like plant) as it creeps along the ground, looking for a suitable tree trunk to climb. The plant is a close relative of the Pan-Polynesian kava (Piper methysticum) and the Māori kawakawa (Macropiper exelsum). It climbs the trunks of trees with roots along its stems which cling to the bark. It has the heart-shaped leaves typical of members of the Piper family, and tiny green flowers without petals or sepals which are borne on long narrow spikes emerging from the leaf stalk and pointing in the opposite direction from the leaf, slightly rounded at the tip. The male spikes have a cream-coloured pollen, and after being fertilized the female spikes are covered with tiny red berries only about a milimetre in diameter. This vine is found in lowland and upland forests in Samoa. Like some of the other plants in this category, the juice from the leaves of the mature plant is used to treat mouth infections in infants, and the crushed leaves are applied to infected cuts and used also in treating inflamation.

As with the Proto-Polynesian term, the reflexes of this generic name, in Western and Eastern Polynesia, still cover a wide range of creeping, climbing and scrambling plants, from the genera Ipomoea, Meremmia, Hoya, Canavalia, Vigna, Piper and their allies; some have been described above, and information about others will be found on the pages for Proto Eastern Polynesian *pōhue and its Maori reflex pōhue.

Vigna marina - Fue sina, Mohihihi
(Alau, Maui, Hawai'i. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr)
Hoya australis - Fue selelā
(Honomanu, Maui. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr)
Piper graeffei - Fue manogi
(American Samoa. Photo: Tavita Togia)
Canavalia rosea - Fue fai va'a
(Photo: Ianare Sevi)
Ipomoea indica - Fue fakahinga, with Lysan Albatross chick
(Town Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawai'l. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr)
Fue 6
Canavalia sericea - Fue veli
(Kanahi Beach, Maui, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr)
Further information : There is more information about these plants on the linked pages, and also in the regional floras listed in the Bibliography. W. Arthur Whistler's Plants of the Canoe People, Plants in Samoan Culture, and Wayside Plants of the Islands are also good sources.
Photographs: There are more photographs of members of this group of plants on the page for Proto Eastern Polynesian *pōhue. Those on this page were taken by Tavita Togia (Piper graeffei) Naturalista website; "Epibase" (Stictocardia tiliifolia) and Ianare Sevi (Canavalia rosea), Wiki Media, Gerald McCormack (flower of Hoya australis, Carnivalia rosea bean) Cook Islands Biodiversity Trust; and Forest and Kim Starr (all other photographs), Starr Environmental, Maui, Hawaii. We are grateful to all these people for making their photographs available for use.

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License